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Lesson Plan

Beyond “What I Did on Vacation”: Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing

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Beyond “What I Did on Vacation”: Exploring the Genre of Travel Writing

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Drew Schrader

Bloomington, Indiana

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will:

  • learn the conventions of the travel writing genre.
  • attempt new methods of generating personal writing.
  • practice process-based writing and writing for an audience.
  • integrate research with personal experiences and reflection.

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Session One

  1. Ask students what they know about travel writing and what they expect to find in travel writing. List their comments on the board or on chart paper. Save this information for use later in the session.
  2. Hand out copies of “The Visit,” or have students access it online. Alternately, you can share another piece of travel writing with students from your class textbook or another source.
  3. Hand out copies of the Analysis of Travel Writing to each student.
  4. Have students read “The Visit” and then answer the questions on the Analysis of Travel Writing, either individually or in small groups.
  5. Discuss the article and student responses to the Analysis of Travel Writing handout.
  6. Ask students to compare that they found in the reading with their observations and expectations at the beginning of the session. Encourage exploration of the similarities and differences.
  7. Hand out a Elements of Good Travel Writing to each student, and discuss these elements as they apply to the reading.

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Session Two

  1. Review the Elements of Good Travel Writing handout from the previous session.
  2. Have students watch the short clip "Developing Travel Writing" from BBC.
  3. When they finish reading, ask students to brainstorm a list of events and/or personal experiences that might make a fun piece of travel writing.
  4. Give students a few minutes to share their lists with their peers.
  5. Have students select one event from their lists and write down, using freewriting and brainstorming techniques, everything they can about it during the remainder of the session. If time is short, have students complete their notes for homework. Ask them to bring their notes to the next session.

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Session Three

  1. Allow students a few minutes to review their notes from the previous session and make any changes or additions.
  2. Explain that these notes are source material for students’ own travel articles.
  3. Have students compare their notes to the Elements of Good Travel Writing. Ask them to identify any characteristics that are not present in their work or that need to be strengthened.
  4. During the remainder of the session, ask students rework their ideas into a draft, making sure specific sections of their writings focus on the key elements:
    • Try for a clever attention grabber (explain that this may be the last or most difficult part).
    • Give enough background information to set the context: Where were you? Why were you there? Why was this event important?
    • Clearly describe the setting. Use details that appeal to multiple senses.
    • Clearly describe an important person (alternately, an animal or thing) in the story. Make sure that your reader will understand who the key people are in the article.
    • Look for places where you can add dialogue. If the event happened a long time ago, dialogue does not have to be direct quotations. Suggest students focus on the general comments and feelings in their dialogues.
    • Mix in personal reflections with the telling of the story.
  5. Ask students to bring a completed draft of their travel article to the next class session for peer review.

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Session Four

  1. Have students share their revised drafts in small groups of two to four students.
  2. Ask peers to evaluate the articles by comparing their characteristics to the Elements of Good Travel Writing.
  3. Encourage students to share supportive feedback and praise as well.
  4. Have students revise their work using feedback from their peers to create a final draft.
  5. If desired, allow time for students to publish their travel writing using the Multigenre Mapper to incorporate drawings into their final work.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Have students research the location in their writings and then incorporate relevant information into the finished versions.
  • Read additional travel writing. Some suggestions are included on the Suggested Reading in the Travel Writing Genre handout.
  • General interest magazines often carry travel pieces as well. Discuss the kinds of travel writing that are included in non-travel magazines such as Cottage Living and the differences between these and articles found in travel magazines such as National Geographic Traveler. Use this comparison as a basis for a discussion of audience and purpose.
  • For some additional ways to write about travel, consult Ten Ways to Write about Your Vacation, which includes writing prompts that can be used as starting points or as more polished pieces.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Assess students’ finished travel writing by comparison to the genre conventions established during discussion and in the Elements of Good Travel Writing. Finished pieces can be shared with peers, family, and/or the school at large via a “travel” edition of a school publication.

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